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Lace collar

Lace edgings and panels have embellished clothes and other textiles in European history since the 10th century. Laces are made by other cultures, too, but needle and bobbin lace developed particularly in European and Mediterranean regions. Since all laces are constructed to be more or less half air, they play both a concealing and revealing role wherever they are placed – on clothing, in windows or on furniture.

Where was this textile created?

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Lace collar
Europe: Southern Europe, Italy
17th century
Linen, needle lace technique
7.5 cm x 48 cm
Gift of Margaret Opekar
T96.0231c Textile Museum of Canada

In this fragment of needle (or needlepoint) lace, high relief motifs are made with buttonhole stitch and joined with delicate connectors called “brides.” The organic energy of the design comes in part from the overlapping curved stems and flowers – as if the plants are pushing to outgrow their rectilinear frame. This lace, in the gros point style, was particularly suited to late 17th century fashions, especially large flat collars worn by men.

The only factors that separate the finest laces from the coarsest nets and bags are scale and subject matter. The same techniques are carried out using different sizes of thread or rope to make sturdy nets or delicate, floral laces.

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